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Dr Ian Plummer

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Lawn Care
Hoops for Artificial Surfaces

We are talking to the local council who want to lay out an additional full-size football (soccer) pitch with an all-weather surface. They seem ready to arrange for suitable holes to be prepared for croquet hoops before the artificial surface is applied (we're told it is impossible to retro-fit) but need from us the specifications for the holes.

What is your advice?  Does it depend on the type of hoop and thus of the underlying soil?  Can one envisage specially made hoops where a constant diameter of upright above ground continues into a straight rod which might slide into a pre-installed underground tube - perhaps with a welded collar to maintain the required height of hoop above ground level?

Andrew Hope responds:

Back in the 70s an indoor bowling club allowed the local croquet club to install hoops.

I realise that this is a different situation as the substrate was concrete.  They ended up with drilling oversized holes, filling them with a molten neoprene like material and then inserting regular hoops with normal carrots into the molten material.  They coated the carrots with wax, Vaseline or some other non stick substance so that they could extract the hoops from the mould. They found that putting the hoops straight into concrete made even 4" (101.6mm) too difficult to run for the average club player.  They were able to fill the holes with plugs and put a carpet square down to cover the sockets.

I hope this gives you some food for thought and perhaps someone else will recall this.  I think it was in Preston, Lancashire.

Martin French adds:

I visited an excellent artificial private lawn in Portugal last October.  The hoops were a reasonable representation of normal tournament hoops in a normal lawn.

The hoops themselves were ordinary cast iron hoops.  I asked about the way they were fixed.  Apparently the "astroturf" was laid on a sub-base layered up to fine grit in the surface layer, while the hoop hole areas were effectively columns of sand in this sub-base.  In discussion with the owner about whether anything could be done to make the hoops more challenging, we thought that either watering the hoop area – to make the sand stick together – or even watering with dilute PVA would be worth trying.

Stephen Mulliner comments:

I installed an artificial court in my garden in 1995.  The court was based on 12 inches of limestone shards contained by kerbstones topped by 6 inches of gravel and an inch of permeable tarmac.  Just before the tarmac phase, I sank breeze blocks into the gravel to act as hoop bases.  After the tarmac had set, I drilled two 6 inch holes in each block (using a steel template to ensure accuracy) to receive 6 inch lengths of galvanised steel water pipe (0.75 inch diameter).  These had been pre-filled with lengths of neoprene tube with a 0.375 inch internal hole).

The hoops were standard Townsend hoops with the carrots ground off and a 0.375 inch hole drilled in the bases for 0.5 inch to receive a 6.5 inch length of 0.375 inch diameter steel rod to act as carrots.  Hoops with similar wire carrots are sold by the USCA.

The hoops then sat in the hoop hole tubes and the neoprene provided a bit of give.  They provide the same sort of test as a conventional hoop by being very resilient – a characteristic noticed about the new Atkins Quadway hoops which are made of stainless steel.

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Updated 28.i.16
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